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Niacin medicines: Overview, Benefits, side effects, Deficiency & Dosage

Team AckoApr 19, 2024

Niacin (NC) offers several health benefits, ranging from brain function to heart health. It is used to treat NC deficiency in the body, which can lead to various disorders such as Pellagra, dementia, diarrhoea, a weak cardiac system, and so on. 

Additionally, NC balances cholesterol in the blood and maintains healthy skin, lowering the risk of atherosclerosis. It is necessary for the proper function of fats and carbohydrates in the body and the maintenance of healthy cells.

Since the human body does not store this vitamin, you need to consume it regularly. It can be obtained through regular supplementation or Niacin-rich foods. It is commonly found in combination with other B vitamins. Continue reading to learn more about this essential vitamin and why you should make sure that you are receiving it enough in your diet or through supplements.




What is Niacin?

Niacin, which is also called vitamin B3 and niacinamide, is a lipid-altering, water-soluble vitamin present in a variety of foods, including various types of meat, seeds, mushrooms, tuna fish, and others.

Niacin, along with other B vitamins, is a component of the vitamin B complex. It is available in three different forms, such as niacinamide, nicotinic acid, and inositol hexaniacinate. Niacin, or vitamin B3, has been thoroughly investigated and has been proven to help treat a wide range of common health conditions.

How does it work?

Niacin belongs to an antilipemic class of drugs. It works by lowering your bad cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and triglycerides in your blood. It also helps elevate your high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol levels. Taking NC with a healthy diet and regular exercise can improve your cholesterol levels.

NC is converted in the body to a coenzyme called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). NAD is required by your body to perform functions such as generating energy, keeping your genes healthy, communicating between cells, and having antioxidant activity (protecting cells from free radicals).

Health benefits of Niacin

Here are some health benefits that Niacin provides to your body.

1. Improves cholesterol levels

Niacin is regarded as an essential treatment option for lowering cholesterol levels. This is because NC helps reduce the risk of heart disease in people with mixed dyslipidemia, which is an increase in plasma cholesterol, triglycerides, or both.

Niacin supplementation has been proven to be very useful for people who are at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, or other kinds of heart disease due to high levels of LDL cholesterol, low levels of HDL cholesterol, or high triglyceride levels. NC is commonly prescribed with statins to control cholesterol levels.

2. May reduce the risk of heart disease

Besides balancing cholesterol and triglycerides, NC offers additional benefits for heart health, such as minimising atherosclerosis, which is the harmful hardening of the arteries that can lead to coronary heart disease.

Niacin supplementation may be beneficial to people who have already suffered cardiac arrest or heart disease before. It may lower the risk of heart disease by reducing the levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, which is one of the key risk factors for heart disease. In one 24-week experiment, it was observed that men with high lipoprotein levels experienced a decrease in lipoprotein levels when administered with high-dose of extended-release NC.

3. Regulates blood glucose levels

One of the most important benefits of NC is its ability to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the symptoms of diabetes. Vitamin B3 in the form of niacinamide treats diabetes by enhancing the function of beta cells, which are responsible for insulin production.

Niacin not only regulates the blood sugar levels efficiently in diabetic patients but may also lessen their risk of high blood cholesterol and heart disease.

However, studies also indicate high doses of NC may cause complications associated with rising blood sugar levels. Hence, if you have any known condition related to high blood sugar, consult your doctor before supplementing with any form of NC to avoid undesired side effects.

4. Promotes skin health

Niacin or niacinamide is used to improve skin health and cure diseases such as acne and inflammation. Vitamin B3 in the form of niacinamide is suggested as a natural acne therapy when applied topically to the skin. Some patients opt to take Niacin or supplements of B vitamins to ease symptoms.

5. Supports brain function

According to research, NC boosts brain health and may help protect against Alzheimer's disease, other brain illnesses related to old age, and cognitive degeneration. It also helps prevent schizophrenia and hallucinations. Furthermore, certain research and case reports have revealed that NC has therapeutic effects for depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses.

6. Promotes joint mobility

Niacin, in the form of niacinamide, has been shown to improve joint mobility. Studies have indicated that a higher intake of Niacin is linked with reduced joint pain and inflammation associated with conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Niacin is usually administered in large doses as an anti-inflammatory therapy for osteoarthritis or bone and joint pain. Reducing inflammation can help lessen arthritis symptoms and regenerate joint cartilage, which is essential for mobility and strength.

7. Helps treat pellagra

A vitamin B3 or Niacin deficiency can result in pellagra, a disease that is more common in low-income groups and those suffering from eating problems or alcoholism. Pellagra symptoms might include fatigue, digestive issues, inflammation, and skin irritation.

People with pellagra typically have very low levels of NC and other B vitamins, which can be caused by either a lack of Niacin consumption or other underlying factors such as protein metabolism disorder or malabsorption of amino acids. When vitamin B3 levels are not restored, people suffering from pellagra might die within a few years due to the shortage. 

8. Help prevent erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is the inability of a male to sustain a sexual function, which can be caused by insufficient blood flow, poor circulation, and other potential factors such as stress, exhaustion, and sickness.

Niacin, which works as a vasodilator, helps enhance blood flow throughout the body and can help prevent erectile dysfunction. 

Side effects of Niacin

Consuming high doses of Niacin supplements may cause various side effects that include the following.

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Skin rashes and irritation

  • Mouth pain

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Allergic reactions such as itching and flushing

  • Irregular heartbeats

  • High blood sugar

  • Impaired gallbladder function

  • Gout

  • Low blood pressure

  • Intestinal or stomach ulcers

Niacin Deficiency

Here are some of the most common symptoms of Niacin deficiency.

  • Symptoms include hallucinations, skin inflammation, digestive discomfort, diarrhoea, and mental disorder.

  • Symptoms include pain and inflammation in the mouth, tongue, vagina, and urethra.

  • Various types of lesions in the skin.

  • Symptoms include burning sensation in the oesophagus and pharynx, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and constipation.

  • Symptoms include depression, cognitive decline, confusion, disorientation, impaired consciousness, mania, or paranoia.

Food sources of Niacin

There are many food items high in Niacin, making it simple and convenient to achieve your daily requirements by eating a nutritious diet.

Name of the food


Amount of Niacin

% daily value


1 cup

19.2 mg

96 percent


1 slice

11.9 mg

60 percent


3 ounces


56 percent


1 cup

9.6 mg

48 percent


3 ounces

6.8 mg

34 percent


1 can

4.8 mg

24 percent

Seeds (sunflower)

1 cup

3.8 mg

19 percent


1 ounce

3.8 mg

19 percent

Green peas

1 cup

3.2 mg

16 percent

Brown rice

1 cup, cooked

3 mg

15 percent


1 cup


13 percent


1 cup, cubed

2.6 mg

13 percent

Sweet potato

1 medium

1.7 mg

8 percent


1 cup

1.3 mg

7 percent

 Dosage of Niacin Medicine

The USDA recommends the following daily allowances for vitamin B3 (Niacin). Please consult a doctor before taking any medication. 

  • 2 mg daily for infants till 6 months

  • 4 mg daily from 7 to 12 months

  • 6 mg daily from 1 to 3 years

  • 8 mg daily from 4 to 8 years

  • 12 mg daily from 9 to 13 years

  • 16 mg daily from 14 to 18  years in males, and 14 mg daily from 14 to 18 years in females

  • 16 mg daily from 19  years and above in males, and 14 mg daily from 19 years and above in females

  • 18 mg daily in case of pregnancy, and 17 mg daily in case of lactation

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions and answers related to Niacin medicines.


How does Niacin help in treating high cholesterol?

Niacin can help elevate HDL cholesterol. It also reduces the mobilisation of fatty acids from adipose tissue, which reduces the production of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.

Why is Niacin used for?

Niacin is used to treat Niacin deficiency in the body, which can lead to a variety of disorders such as Pellagra, dementia, diarrhoea, or a weak cardiac system. Additionally, Niacin is used to balance cholesterol in the blood and maintain healthy skin, along with lowering the risk of atherosclerosis. 

Is Niacin necessary for maintenance of healthy cells?

Niacin is necessary for the proper function of fats and carbohydrates in the body, as well as the maintenance of healthy cells.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions. Niacin is written as NC in this article due to certain constraints, it is not a medical acronym.


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